Vatican Handbook Clergy Abuse
Title: Vatican pushes for uniform approach in handling clerical abuse
Author: Elise Ann Allen
ROME – In a bid to universalize the Catholic Church’s approach to handling clerical abuse cases, the Vatican Thursday issued a new handbook outlining the procedures to follow when an ordained minister is accused of abusing a minor.
The request for a manual was made during the Feb. 21-24, 2019, global summit on the protection of minors at the Vatican, which drew together the heads of all bishops’ conferences worldwide.
That gathering was in part held to break the notion that clerical sexual abuse was primarily an issue in the West, and to get bishops on the same page in terms of best-practices, as some countries are more advanced in safeguarding policies than others.
During the summit, Pope Francis issued a list of 21 reflection points to help guide the discussion, one of which was to draft “practical handbook indicating the steps to be taken by authorities at key moments when a case emerges.”
In a statement published July 16 along with the new vademecum, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), said the document had been requested by numerous bishops and superiors of religious communities as a tool to reference when abuse allegations arise. The CDF is the office which deals with allegations of clerical sexual abuse.
“Recent history attests to greater attention on the part of the Church regarding this scourge,” Ladaria said. “The course of justice cannot alone exhaust the Church’s response, but it is necessary in order to come to the truth of the facts,” he continued. “This is a complex path that leads into a dense forest of norms and procedures before which Ordinaries and Superiors sometimes find themselves lacking the certainty how to proceed,” he said, calling the document “an ‘instruction manual’ that intends to help whoever has to deal with concrete cases from the beginning to the end, that is, from the first notification of a possible crime to the definitive conclusion of the case.”